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[217] the immense amount of these supplies which must be furnished every day for the support of an army of seventy thousand men, including forage for horses, cavalry and artillery. The communication between such an army and its base of supplies cannot be for a moment interrupted or even endangered. It was therefore a point of paramount importance to guard this railroad from flank movements on both sides. The Chickahominy River flows in a southeasterly direction, and is crossed both by the Richmond & York River Railroad and the Virginia Central Railroad, which runs northerly,--the river and the portions of the two railroads south of it forming an isosceles triangle, with the apex towards the east. Place the right hand on a table with the palm down, the fingers close together, and the thumb stretched back as far as possible; let the thumb represent the course of the Virginia Central Road, and the forefinger that of the Richmond & York. Richmond will then be in the hollow at the bottom of the thumb, and a line drawn from the ball of the thumb to the first joint of the forefinger will indicate the course of the Chickahominy

In order to keep the railroad entirely secure, the course of the river made it necessary to divide our forces and place part of them on one side of the stream and part on the other. This is not usually deemed a prudent disposition of an army; but there was an imperative necessity for it in this case. Besides, General McClellan had been directed to extend his right wing so as to form a junction with General McDowell; and the order for

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Chickahominy (Virginia, United States) (1)

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